We seldom have difficulty deciding whether or not to follow a sentence’s opening word, phrase, or clause with a comma. In two particular scenarios, those of conjunctive adverbs and sentence adverbs, a comma usually follow the introductory adverb.

What are Sentence Adverbs?

When an adverb modifies a clause or a whole sentence and not only a single word, it is ascribed as a sentence adverb. Sentence adverb isn’t attached to a single adjective, adverb, or verb, it doesn’t need to be close to only one precise word. So it usually appears at the opening of a sentence and is set off by “comma”. That comma is a signal that the adverb modifies not the word that follows but the clause or sentence that follows.

Sentence adverbs are distinct from typical adverbs. They show the opinion, attitude, or judgment of the speaker, the author in nonfiction or the perspective character in fiction—toward the sentiment expressed in the sentence.

List of Sentence Adverbs

Not all adverbs end in -ly, but many do.

Like all adverbs, -ly adverbs are used to add meaning to verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs.

For example:

Actually    Fortunately    Regrettably

Apparently    Hopefully    Seriously

Basically    Ideally    Strangely

Briefly    Incidentally    Surprisingly

Certainly    Indeed    Thankfully

Clearly    Interestingly    Theoretically

Conceivably    Ironically    Truthfully

Confidentially admittedly       apparently

Certainly         confidentially  consequently

Curiously         fortunately      frankly

Happily           honestly           incidentally

Ironically         luckily mercifully

Naturally         obviously         oddly

Personally        presumably      regrettably

Sadly   Naturally         Ultimately

Curiously    Predictably    Wisely

Sentence Adverbs in a sentence

  • Honestly, most television dramas are unbearably familiar. (adverb modifying the whole sentence)
  • Mercifully, the blast was stopped by the swift appearance of the fire brigade. (adverb modifying the whole sentence)
  • Incidentally, your mother dismissed by earlier.
  • Frankly, she didn’t think she delivers it.
  • Sadly, the woman’s husband died, and she inherited millions. (A comma between the independent clauses may be all the change that’s needed.)
  • Oddly, I hadn’t thought of that option.
  • Suddenly the rain poured down.
  • Sadly, Mary didn’t make it to the ball at that time.
  • Fortunately, the pizza was out of reach.
  • Honestly, I wish I were somewhere else.
  • Hopefully, James broached the subject of an expedition.
  • Fortunately, the big ship stayed afloat long enough for all the tourists to be rescued. (adverb modifying entire sentence)

In each of these examples, the adverb at the beginning of the sentence is set off by a comma and conveys the attitude of the speaker toward the entire thought being expressed.

  • Sentence adverbs can operate at the end of a clause or sentence instead of the beginning. In the end position, they may come across as a review or subordinate. This use at the end of a clause may create a more informal touch to the sentence.
  • I didn’t think she could write it, frankly.
  • Sentence adverbs can also be used midsentence or mid clause. These often sound or feel like asides murmured quietly or delivered with attitude.
  • Obama pushed the experimental plane too hard and, unfortunately, crashed into the desert.
  • The ageing lothario, presumably, was the owner of the Viagra collection.

Brought to you by the KidsEnglishCollege™ Editorial Team.

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